Day 4: Shinumo Canyon to Buck Farm Canyon
March 8, 2014
We cook breakfast and load up the rafts and dories. CeCe, Stef, Natalie, Doug and Shy leave early to do a loop hike involving leaving one raft at Fault Canyon and leaving another raft at Shinumo Canyon, where they will hike and rappel back to, then pick up the second raft and follow us down the river to Buck Farm Canyon where we will all camp. Those 11 leaving earlier have a lot to do. We have to stop at a large spring to refill our water jugs with 25 gallons of fresh water from Vasey’s Paradise and do it in such a way that we don’t step on any of the endangered snails that live in that little microcosm of space. We also have to be careful not to get into the poison ivy which also grows there, one of the few places in Arizona where it is prolific.
Two of the rafts are full of the empty water jugs. The raft left at Shinumo has all our spare life vests for the hikers to wear after their hike and on their way to the second raft, which will have the ones they are using for the trip. The rest of us, after Vasey’s Paradise, head down to Redwall Cavern, a large solution cave at a little above the water level and full of sand. You can walk around it or sit and feel the immensity of it. Powell, who led the first exploration here said that you could seat 50,000 in it. That is an exaggeration, but 5000 would fit comfortably. We film the 3 dories, recreating a video that was made by Dave Mortenson’s father, Brick Mortenson, in the 1960’s, as well as video interviews with Dave Mortenson who explained the importance of these dories in saving the Grand Canyon from 2 additional dams scheduled to be built here in the 1960’s, for the so popular rafting trips such as we are doing and the commercial trips are doing as well that puts 30,000 people into this narrow corridor in a year on trips.
We spend a couple of hours waiting for our hiking group to catch up with us, but when they still have not arrived we head down to the Marble Canyon bridge site and then finally towards Buck Farm Canyon where our hikers minus 1 join us before we get to camp. Shy had taken a fall on the hike and had to be airlifted to Flagstaff for medical attention. This is a wilderness area and with the wonder of the satellite phones our group caries, help in the form of the Grand Canyon National Park Service Helicopter arrives shortly after notification. A paramedic assesses his condition and they take him out of the canyon. CeCe is able to speak to him in the ER in Flagstaff that night where he is still being treated, also with one of our satellite phones.